7 Ways We Saw God’s Blessings Last Week
“It is finished.” With those words, Jesus gave up His spirit, and it was the end of His life (John 19:30). And those were the same words that I spoke at the end of our soccer camp.
It was a great week, for reasons that I’ll outline below (and for other reasons that I won’t list). But every afternoon we were plum worn out. And every morning we woke up, asking God to help us through the day.
But God didn’t just help us scrape by; He blessed the days abundantly. Whereas the whole idea of a spring break camp started about 4 months ago as a way to serve the kids and parents in Allendale, this week was about so much more.
In fact, even before the camp started, I already knew what was my favorite aspect of this event — the teamwork that was involved.
It Takes a Village
My favorite part of last week was that so many folks contributed to make it a success. By my count, at least 37 people and organizations gave time and/or money to make it all happen.
- The school district allowed us the use of a facility, and a bus for the Friday field trip.
- Grace Church provided financial support to defray programming costs.
- Upward provided materials, and a couple of their staff members led the sports programming.
- About 10 groups and individuals donated money so we could provide children with healthy meals and snacks.
- Three cafeteria staff volunteered to prepare those meals each day.
- Seven different soccer players from USC-Salkehatchie participated in activities and encouraged children in positive ways.
- A parent of a camper bought us 10 cases of water bottles to use.
- Five other local residents each spent at least two days serving the campers.
- Other community members who weren’t able to volunteer stopped in to observe our program and to encourage the leaders.
- A few families from Grace Church experienced Allendale for the first time, including 15 children.
- High students from Grace spent most of their own spring break here, continuing to building relationship with Allendale children. For each of these students, it was the second or third time here in less than a year.
- The Charleston Riverdogs donated tickets, and we took about half of the campers to see them play on Friday.
This soccer camp was not about what one or two or five people could make happen; it was about the great things that can be accomplished when many do their individual parts. As Vince Lombardi said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
And the Rest of the Story
Yes, the atmosphere of teamwork was my favorite part, but there at least six other reasons why I know that God blessed this endeavor:
- The children were blessed. About sixty different children (with an average attendance of 45-50) had the opportunity to exercise, socialize, learn about nutrition, and be encouraged by leaders. And instead of spending their entire spring breaks staying up late and sleeping in, they kept a more normal schedule, which I hope will help them adjust back to school this week.
- The parents were supported. Many parents expressed their appreciation to us for having this camp. Children were out of school, but parents still had to work. By providing an all-day camp, we were definitely worn out, but knew that it helped families.
- Truth was communicated. There were devotions and clear gospel presentations throughout the week. I’m no Billy Graham (that’s ok), and I’m no Bible Man (that’s really ok), so the best part was when leaders were able to reinforce those truths through the day, on an individual basis.
- A great school-related experience. Children need to see schools as a positive place to be. By giving them fun activities and a chance to just talk with their friends, I hope that we facilitated positive feelings about the school.
- Opportunity for parents. Grace Church provides many opportunities for mission trips, but parents of multiple young children may find it hard to spend a week in Nicaragua or Eleuthera. But last week, 5 families were able to experience a new culture, together.
- Incident-free. Overall, I think the week went really well (and this means a lot coming from a perfectionist like me). The weather (though sometimes warm and sometimes cold) was extremely favorable. A few small scratches were bandaged, and some relational conflicts needed to be resolved, but all wounds were healed.
On the trip back from Charleston, I kept thinking about this last point, that the week just went so well. I repeatedly praised God for making that happen.
And then, just five miles from Allendale, Sender threw-up on the bus. Another boy, seeing the vomit, also puked. So much for incident-free. So the next day, the bus driver had to come back to the school in order to clean up the bus.
Oh yeah, the nice bus driver. Make that at least 38 people who made the week a success.
This “individual commitment to a group effort” is what the Allendale community needs to see, and what needs to be encouraged.
Edit: You can see pictures from the week on Who Let These Dogs Out?